Pittsburgh Pirates Hitters: 2015 Team Preview

Sep 25, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) hits a two run single in the eighth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

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Remember last year when Gregory Polanco owners were ecstatic when he was called up on June 10th?  He collected at least one hit in his first 11 games including a 5-7 effort at Miami where Polanco smashed his first Major League bomb.  However, Gregory Polanco’s rookie year was a relative disappointment as he struggled to get on-base or hit for consistent power.  The important thing here to remember is that Polanco was only 22 last year.

He has every bit of the same stud potential that he did in 2014.  Now, he should start in right field every day with Travis Snider off to Baltimore and he will only lose occasional at-bats to Andrew Lambo.  The projections do not accurately reflect that Polanco should now get over 550 plate appearances if healthy, which means his counting stats should jump.  His 2015 ceiling could be as high as Starling Marte’s stats if all goes to plan.

Like many of the game’s great players, there is not much that needs to be said about the Pirates’ star, Andrew McCutchen.  He is an absolute stud of all facets of the game.  Cutch will go second, third, or fourth in your draft.  I have him third overall because Giancarlo Stanton’s power is irresistible.  However, the beauty of McCutchen is that he is a virtual lock to finish as a top five player at season’s end.  You can do no wrong with Andrew McCutchen on your team.

Neil Walker may have just lost his arbitration case, but he has still won my fantasy heart with his steady production.  In 2014, Walker’s .809 OPS and 130 wRC+ were both career highs, which means that I am anticipating a minor slide in his stats.  However, I still expect at least a .750 OPS and around 20 homers.  There is more information on Neil Walker of the Pirates in this article.

I admit that I used to be in the anti-Starling Marte camp for no particular reason, but I now have Marte just inside my top 50 players for 2015.  His BB/K ratio has always scared me, but two years of quality slash lines, a little pop, and a lot of stolen bases have alleviated my fears.  I think we see even better production than Tanner’s line in terms of his runs scored, stolen bases, and batting average.  Clearly, I was in the wrong camp back then because Starling Marte is a safe bet to produce.

Pedro Alvarez will likely be moving across the diamond to accommodate Josh Harrison, but he will carry his hefty strikeout and home run totals with him.  It would be a gift if Alvarez hit .242 next year, but he certainly could hit 30+ homers again if he earns consistent at-bats.  Pedro Alvarez is probably the best value pick if you are looking for power in 2015, especially with his 3B eligibility.

Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball has created all of the projections seen in this post.  You can read about how he develops his projections here.  His projections are invaluable to this site.  You can also visit his site at www.smartfantasybaseball.com.